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“Bundesplatz” by Cara Lee (M.Arch ´96)

The Government Piazza of Switzerland, “Bundesplatz” is situated at the doorstep of the Swiss Parliament building in Bern, the capital of Switzerland. Bern is designated as a UNESCO heritage site and the Parliament building is one of the country’s national monuments.

In the densely woven historic city, Bern’s old Piazza used to be a mere parking lot. As urgent need for public space was growing, the Swiss government held an international competition calling for the designs on how to create a public space that serves a stage for dignified official affairs, political rallies, cultural events, and an oasis from mundane daily activities.

After a considerate amount of analysis on the function of the political institution and people’s desire for the space, our design solution for Piazza was of absolute void. This total reduction left the space free to stage numerous diverse events of different sizes and needs.  The architectural element is reduced to the minimum; stone quarried from Swiss mountains is the surface, while the band of light has a symbolic meaning of welcoming people to enter the parliament. These conditions are punctuated with water: the liquid that can appear and disappear as desired.

With 12 years of political hot debate and final making it, the Piazza is now called the “Business Card of Switzerland” and the Swiss public have welcomed and utilized the Piazza with absolute enthusiasm. It was completed and inaugurated on August 1st, Swiss National Day, in 2004.

“The way the Piazza was created becomes a model character for Switzerland’s political mainstream. Its “emptiness” allows for openness in thinking….what our politician need as well…’ Joseph Deiss, Swiss President, in his official inauguration speech on August 1st, 2004.

1992 Competition Winner

2004 Construction Completed

2006 AIA National Honor Award for Urban Design

2006 AIA California Chapter Merit Award for Urban Design

2006 Nomination for 10 Best Projects in Swtizerland





One Comment

  1. Studybenefits Switzerland
    September 12, 2013

    Even I as a Swiss citizen didn’t know that information, thank you for this great article. The pictures of the Bundesplatz at night give an idea on what it’s like to live in Switzerland

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This article was written on 15 Mar 2013, and is filled under Alumni Work.